Fred Curtin’s residue management system for continuous corn includes baling cornstalks on selected fields for cattle bedding and feed. To maintain soil quality, “We don’t remove more than 50% of residue,” says the Stonington, Ill., farmer, “and we don’t harvest residue from the same fields every year.”

Research at two sites at the University of Illinois research farm in Champaign in 2011 and 2012 (four replications) evaluated the effects of stover removal on the continuous-corn yield penalty. In an intensively managed continuous-corn system, removing half of corn stover boosted yields by 19 bushels per acre, compared to no stover removal, says soil scientist Laura Gentry, research leader. However, that wasn’t enough to recoup the continuous-corn yield penalty, which ranged from 25 to 49 bushels per acre.